The Camomile Lawn (1992) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes

The British are geniuses.

Not only did they plant the seeds of stable government and economic stability in every far-flung cranny of the world, but they found a way to look at the breasts of hot chicks without drawing any complaints from their English wives and girlfriends.

Here's the plan. They create an earnest and high-minded mini-series - basically a soap opera in four or five parts. They include plenty of colorful period costumes, romances, lush photography, songs, and cute little girls who say things like, "Oh, I do so like it ever so much, Uncle Nigel. Yes, ever so much."  We're talking basic-chick flick territory here, right? We're talking the kind of stuff that makes Beaches seem like a Tarantino movie.

Now in the United States, guys are always getting dragged to similar things by their wives and girlfriends. How many of you were forced to watch "Fried Green Tomatoes" or "Dirty Dancing" or "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"? I see a lot of hands up. Me, too.

But the British guys have this all figured out. These distinguished and serious shows are filled with non-stop full-frontal nudity from some seriously good-looking and often large-breasted women like Jennifer Ehle (this one) and Keeley Hawes ("Tipping the Velvet").

So British guys get to say, "No, darling, why don't we watch Predator on BBC2 instead?", and they can give in graciously, allowing the women to choose the entertainment, knowing full well that the women's choices will have more female nudity than the average titty bar. 

This has three purposes: 

1. It allows the man to see lots of naked women, with the full imprimatur of his wife or girlfriend.

2. She owes him for giving in graciously.

3. These kinds of stories always get women in a fairly receptive mood. Nudge-nudge. Wink-wink.

The British are geniuses.


As usual with a British miniseries, this is a sincere and handsomely mounted production. It's about a family of British geezers looking back from 1984 to the days before World War II, when they were not geezers. Actually, very little action happens in the present. The film is mostly about how their youthful non-geezerly, lusty, ripe-bodied lives were affected by the conflict in Europe in the late 30s.


A few thoughts about the incredibly gorgeous Jennifer Ehle.

I've rambled on from time to time about the element of luck in showbiz success. The classic example is the comparison between Kate Beckinsale and Claire Forlani, two beautiful English women who easily switch to American accents. They are approximately equal in facial beauty, although Beckinsale has a more familiar, cheerleader kind of look and Forlani is more exotic. They both have slim, healthy bodies, but Forlani has more feminine curves. Neither one is a great actress, but each has a niche, I suppose. Beckinsale has carved out her career as the female Keanu Reeves - no emotional depth but looks great in leather and does fine in action roles. Forlani's roles have been more dialogue-oriented. You'd have to call them about even. Scoopy Junior and I prefer Forlani, but plenty prefer Beckinsale. But the point is that Beckinsale is now an A-list star and nobody in the general public really knows who the hell Forlani is. "Oh, you know, the girlfriend from Mallrats." Beckinsale won that dice roll.

The same sort of comparison applies to Jennifer Ehle and Kate Winslet. Ehle is far more attractive, has a much better body, and is every bit the actress, but do you really know who the hell she is? Probably not. Yet Winslet is a major international star. I'm not saying Winslet doesn't deserve her fame, but why her and not Ehle, who is equally talented and more attractive? Just the luck of the draw. That's all. Put Ehle on that big old sinking ship, and she'd be the star now, while Winslet would be getting good reviews in small-time productions, and I'd be writing these comments the other way around.

A few other miscellaneous facts about Ehle:

1. You'd never guess it from her accent, but she was born in North Carolina.

2. Despite the fact that she was naked virtually non-stop in this series, she doesn't have any other screen nudity in her career that I know of. I guess she got it all out of her system.

3. She doesn't make many movies - I think only seven in the past eleven years. She works on stage a lot, and she used to do a lot of these distinguished mini-series in the UK. It seems that she's always in wigs and period costumes. She should do more films. She's only 33, and she still could be - should be -  a major star. She was in Neil LaBute's Possession, in the scenes which took place in the past, and I couldn't take my eyes off her. Her special, radiant beauty owned every second of screen time. (Have you noticed that I like her? What a face, what breasts, what a smile, what eyes! She's also talented and can speak in complete sentences.)

4. She and her mother, actress Rosemary Harris, have had strangely parallel lives.

a. In this film, they played the same part, mom in the present, Jennifer in the flashbacks.

b. In Sunshine, the director cast them as mother and daughter -- without knowing that they were really mother and daughter!

c. In 2000, Jennifer won her first Tony for the Broadway production of "The Real Thing". Take a guess whom she beat out for that statuette! Yup, mom was nominated for her role in "Waiting in the Wings".



  • no features
  • full-screen
  • two disks


Female nudity as follows:

Jennifer Ehle and Tara Fitzgerald showed their bodies from every angle.

Male nudity as follows:

  • Oliver Cotton - buns and penis
  • Jeremy Brook - buns
  • Joss Brook - buns
  • Nicholas Le Prevost - buns

Tuna's notes


The Camomile Lawn is a BBC TV mini series about an upper class British family's experiences starting in the period just before WW II and continuing until the present day. It is told as flashbacks by survivors on their way to a funeral in the present. Essentially, three generations of an extended family are involved.  More or less on her own is Sophie, a love child, and youngest of the bunch by a goodly margin. In the middle group, we have various cousins of both sexes. The older generation consists of Uncle Richard and Aunt Helena, who are the owners of the Cornwall estate the family summers at, and their friends, a concert violinist and his wife who are expatriate Austrian Jews.

Beginning in the last summer before the start of the war, the talk is of the annual "terror run" (a moonlit romp along the cliffs), who should bed whom, and when or if the war will start. The war changes everything. Aunt Helena goes on tour with the violinist, so Uncle Richard beds the violinist's wife. In the younger generation, one of the female cousins marries for money, but does not let that get in the way of enjoying many men. Yet another girl moves to London for an important war department job. All the men join the military.

This is a very watchable historical mini-series which is reportedly true to the original source material penned by Mary Wesley, who wrote several novels about the British upper class.  It paints a portrait much different than I imagined for the besieged Brits, who, it seems, were not always hunkered down in air raid shelters. In fact, they were having it off as often as possible with anyone in near proximity, in twos and threes. The series did keep me interested, although I found the last two episodes a little slow.

The Critics Vote

  • nominated for the BAFTA TV award for best dramatic serial

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. Uplifting costume drama and full-frontal nudity. Something for everyone, although men may watch with the fast forward if their wives are not actually in the room.

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